Senator Ted Cruz has recently opened up about his late sister, Miriam Cruz, who died of a drug overdose in 2011 after a long battle with addiction.
Miriam Cruz was 49 when she died in Pennsylvania.
“These tragedies are happening in human lives all over this country — it’s the human journey,” Cruz said while speaking in New Hampshire. “It’s fraught with peril and sometimes people make decisions bound and determined to destroy themselves. As a family you wonder: What could I have done more? Was there a way to change the path she was on? Those are questions you never fully answer.”
Here’s what you need to know about Miriam Cruz:
1. She Was One of Cruz’s 2 Half Sisters From His Father’s First Marriage
Rafael Cruz, the Texas senator’s father, had two daughters from his first marriage, Miriam and Roxana. He was married to his first wife, Julia Garza, in 1957, according to the Huffington Post.
They met in Texas where Rafael, a native of Cuba, was studying at the University of Texas. They divorced after a few years.
According to Cruz’s memoir, he had a relationship with his older half-sisters while he was growing up, despite his father’s divorce from their mother and an age gap between them.
He said she lived with the family during the summer and he would play with her.
“I sometimes found it hard to reconcile the bright, fun and charismatic sister I adored with the person who would lie to me without hesitation and who stole money from her teenage brother to feed her various addictions,” Cruz wrote in his book.
Roxana Cruz, 52, lives in Texas and is a doctor. She has not spoken to the media about her brother’s presidential run.
Julia Garza, who was a professor in California, died in 2013.
2. He Said His Sister ‘Slowly Surrendered to Her Wild Side’
Cruz said his sister “slowly surrendered to her wild side” and “would go dancing at what my father derisively referred to as ‘honky-tonks’ and consistently sought bad characters.”
She was nine years older than Cruz.
“Her parents got divorced when she was a little girl and Miriam was always very angry about it,” Ted Cruz told CNN. “It consumed her. She was smart, she was beautiful, and yet, her whole life she lived as an angry teenager. She was basically frozen emotionally and in a state of rebellion. She made decision after decision that was the wrong decision.”
3. Cruz Said Her Ex-Husband, Who Has a Felony Record, Was Abusive
Miriam Cruz married Larry Maykopet in 1984 in Texas and had a son a few years later, according to the National Journal. They later moved to Pennsylvania.
Maykopet told the Daily Mail that Miriam became addicted to drugs after a car crash.
“She was in a car wreck and hurt her back. The doctor put her on prescription medication for the pain. It was just for a month but she got hooked,” he said. “They put her into rehab to try to get her off the medication but it didn’t work.”
Ted Cruz has accused Maykopet of being abusive to his sister. Maykopet and Miriam Cruz divorced in 1990. He has felony convictions for burglary and firearms possession, according to the Daily Mail.
Joe Maykopet, Ted Cruz’s nephew, now lives in Pennsylvania and still has a relationship with his uncle. He found her dead in 2011.
“This is an absolute epidemic,” Cruz said during the last Republican debate. “We need leadership to solve it. Solving it has to occur at the state and local level with programs like AA, and counseling and churches and charities, but it also has to occur securing the borders, because you’ve got Mexican cartels that are smuggling vast amounts of heroin into this country.”
4. She Once Lived in a Crack House & Was Arrested Several Times Before Her Death
Cruz said Miriam was “in and out of prison,” mainly for petty crimes, while talking about her battle with addiction on CNN.
“Little things, but she kept associating with people who were really bad actors,” Cruz said. “When I was in my mid 20s things actually got really bad for Miriam, she was living in a crack house (in Philadelphia).”
Cruz has talked about flying with his father to Pennsylvania to try to rescue his sister, pulling her out of the crack house and taking her to a Denny’s restaurant. The intervention failed.
“With an addict, you can’t make them change,” Ted Cruz told CNN. “If they’re unwilling to get treatment, if they’re unwilling to walk another path.”
According to the Daily Mail, court records show that Miriam Cruz was arrested several times and was in and out of prison before her death.
She was convicted of retail theft, traffic offenses and drug charges. She died in January 2011 of an accidental drug overdose.
“It was heartbreaking,” Cruz wrote. “I loved my sister, and she spent much of her life trapped by the demons of addiction and anger.”
5. The Senator Paid for His Nephew to Go to Military School
Ted Cruz has been involved in the life of Miriam Cruz’s son, Joey Maykopet, since he was young, including paying to send him to military school because she was unable to take care of him, according to Politico. He took out an advance on his credit card to do so.
His nephew now works at a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania.
He was featured in a video posted to YouTube by Cruz’s campaign.
“My nephew Joey is someone I’ve known all my life, I remember holding Joey when he was a newborn baby, I was 15 when he was born,” Cruz says in the video. “When Joey was in sixth grade things took a real turn for the worse with my sister. She had come out of prison and fallen in with some pretty unsavory characters and the substance abuse was getting a lot worse.”
Cruz said he and his father tried to tell her, “‘Miriam, your son needs you,’ and she wasn’t at a point where she was ready to pull out of the spiral she was in.”
Maykopet says in the video that the years his mother was struggling were “difficult” for him.
“I felt that I took on the role of the parent in that relationship, and just needed to be the responsible one and try to do as much as I could to keep myself from following that same road,” he said. “And with guidance from my uncle Ted and the rest of my family, I was able to get past that part of my life.”
“My uncle Ted has been a huge inspiration for me ever since I was younger,” Maykopet said. “You can come from anything and your future is really what you make it.”